Project Questions

questions about context

  • What does analysis of political, legal and moral debates about inheritance reveal about changing understandings of the individual, the family, the market and private property in late 19th and early 20th century Britain?
  • What motivated the stat’es growing interest in taxing different forms of property at death?
  • How did it respond to moral and political discourse on inheritance? How did it justify and balance the need for raising revenue with its assumed role as a protector of private property and a guarantor of rights of middle-class families and individuals?
  • What does analysis of cultural discourses reveal about the contested social and political significance of inheritance and property transmission?

questions about wealth transmission

  • What were the main ways in which property was transferred between generations? How did these change over time? How did they vary geographically?
  • How did the ownership of different kinds of wealth (e.g. land versus shares and securities) influence the transmission of wealth?
  • What was the function and significance of the transfer of property at death among families?
  • What was the role of changing demographic circumstances – notably smaller family sizes among the middle class?
  • Did the transmission of property extent beyond families (e.g. charities)?
  • How did individuals and families respond to changes to inheritance tax and other fiscal shifts in their property transmission practices?
  • How did legal changes, notably the Married Women’s Property Acts, impact on inheritance strategies?
  • What was the role of intermediaries and professional knowledge in financial planning and in formulating inheritance strategies, such as solicitors and trustees? Did the use of trusts decline over time, for instance, after the Married Women’s Property Acts passed?
  • What was the experience of beneficiaries? What and when did they inherit?

questions about social impact

  • What was the impact on their economic well-being and that of subsequent generations?
  • How was inheritance interpreted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in relation to notions of social justice between and across the generations?
  • What impact did inheritance have upon wealth and capital and the potential for realising value from particular kinds of assets for subsequent generations? (e.g. what happened to family businesses, land, estates and financial assets?)

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